If you’ve wanted to make tasty chana masala at home but feel put off by the long list of exotic ingredients, wait no more. You probably already have all the spices you need for this recipe, and the prep takes about 10 minutes, tops.
Chana masala…mmmm. So tasty. So rich and saucy. And with this recipe, so easy!
Also known as chickpea curry, this dish makes for an easy and satisfying week night supper. This is especially true if you can pre-measure the spices the evening before or in the morning, to take a bit of pressure off the evening activities.
Despite the ingredient list, this is a very easy dish to make. The cooking goes very quickly, so prep everything ahead of time, even down to measuring out the spices into a bowl before you start cooking anything.
Maybe it’s because this dish is so deeply tasty and satisfying to me that it just feels like a treat and it’s hard to remember that it’s full of goodness. Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) like other beans provide plenty of protein and fiber. The onion and tomatoes provide antioxidants, and the spices offer up all their anti-inflammatory properties. But putting all that goodness aside, it just tastes delicious!
Chickpeas are legumes. The legume family consists of plants that produce a pod with seeds inside, such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts. Dietary guidelines suggest that we eat about 3 cups of cooked legumes each week. According to a study quoted on www.whfoods.com, we should eat closer to 4 – 8 cups a week for optimal benefit. If you’re not used to eating legumes, start slowly and increase the amount gradually.
Whichever legume you eat, try to include chickpeas in the mix. At approximately 270 calories per cup, they represent about 10-15% of daily calories (based on 2000 calories a day). In return for this moderate calorie cost, they provide us with 50% of the recommended daily intake for fiber and 29% for protein.
Give yourself a break…
There are many many benefits to eating a plant-based diet, but there’s no getting around the fact that it takes longer to wash, peel, chop and cook vegetables than it does to slap a piece of meat on the BBQ and declare it to be dinner. So give yourself a break…you’re already spending time and effort on eating mindfully; if you want to, use canned beans and feel good about it. Buy the best quality bean you can afford, which means organic, in PBA-free cans, and with a bit of kombu seaweed included (it helps to reduce gassiness).
If you enjoy the process of cooking beans from scratch, or if budget is a big concern, then by all means used dried beans instead. Stores sell dried beans in bulk or in packages. Whichever option you prefer, buy dried beans from a store with good turnover so the beans are fresh. (If you buy from a bulk bin, make sure the store keeps the bins covered to protect from contamination.) Although you’re not likely to inspect every single bean, do check for evidence of moisture or insect damage.
Soak the dried beans for at least four hours before cooking them. Soaking can help reduce the substance that causes gassiness, and make it easier for the body to absorb the beans’ nutrients. Another good thing is that soaking the beans will reduce the time required for cooking. On average, four hours of soaking reduces cooking time by approximately 25%. This reduced cooking time can mean less loss of water-soluble nutrients.
So do yourself and your loved ones a favor – stop putting it off and make this hearty, delicious, and oil-free chickpea curry tonight!
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